SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) - England’s march towards the Euro 2020 finals continued but not quite in the manner they might have expected as they beat a brave and enterprising Kosovo side 5-3 in an extraordinary Group A qualifier on Tuesday.
Valon Berisha gave 120th-ranked Kosovo the lead after 35 seconds but England hit back seven minutes later through Raheem Sterling’s header and the rampant hosts led 5-1 at the interval with a brace for teenager Jadon Sancho.
Kosovo were not about to depart the biggest night in their short footballing history quietly though.
Within 10 minutes of the restart they had scored twice through Berisha and a penalty by Vedat Muriqi, leaving England manager Gareth Southgate wearing a frown.
Harry Kane, who had scored England’s second goal, had a penalty saved by Arijanet Muric and Sterling then hit the post but Kosovo were still going forward until the final whistle and Bersant Celina went close to making it 5-4.
England lead the group with a maximum 12 points having scored 19 goals in the process while Kosovo are third with eight points and still very much in the frame to qualify for their first tournament finals.
The Czech Republic are in second place with nine points after a 3-0 victory in Montenegro.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis